RTD Looking to End RockiesRide, Race for the Cure Service

Few people use these buses, and RTD says the resources to operate them will be better spent on other types of service.

Old RTD buses in front of Coors Field in 1995. Photo:  Steve Rinker/Flickr
Old RTD buses in front of Coors Field in 1995. Photo: Steve Rinker/Flickr

With an underfunded RTD struggling to balance its budget, the agency plans to end special bus service for Rockies games and the annual Race for the Cure. While losing the services may be tough on a few people, the fact is the special routes don’t provide good bang for the buck, and RTD can do more for riders by devoting resources to other services.

RockiesRide once served 23 park-and-rides, using 175 buses to shuttle Rockies fans to and from every home game. Now it takes riders between Coors Field and four park-and-rides in Thornton, Westminster, and Longmont for weekend games, as well as the annual fireworks games.

The service averages just 236 riders per game, and that’s not enough to justify it, Assistant General Manager of Bus Operations Bruce Abel told the RTD Board of Directors on Tuesday. “That ridership is still marginal at best,” Abel said.

The Rockies are also developing the surface parking lot where the bus loads and unloads passengers, which factored into the possible change. Fans can still take the 120X and LD/LX on weekdays and Saturdays, but the cuts means no bus service for those northern suburban areas on Sundays.

The end of RockiesRide frees up $108,000 a year for RTD. Or put another way, the agency was losing about $8 per trip. That might be worth it to help people get to work, but getting people to the ballpark isn’t a pressing social need.

Abel also recommended cutting special service for the annual Race for the Cure in September, which serves just under 400 passengers once a year at a cost of $16,800. Abel said RTD should only provide special service for events with at least 40,000 people attending (about 10,000 came to the race last year).

The cuts aren’t a done deal yet. The RTD Board will have to approve them after a public process.

Is this money a big deal? Not really, but if we’re being honest, lightly-used transit to special events shouldn’t be a high priority for RTD. If these resources can be redirected to service that more people will use, that’s what the agency should be doing.